You don’t have to spend a lot to get a great souvenir in Kyoto.

As you might expect from a major railway hub for one of the country’s most visited cities, Kyoto Station is filled with souvenir stores. From sweets to miscellaneous goods, there’s such a wide selection on offer you’d think they have all the main products from Kyoto in stock, so when our reporter Udonko was planning a trip to the city, she did some online research beforehand to find out which souvenirs she should buy.

▼ Kyoto Station

As she scrolled excitedly through all the recommendations online, a question suddenly popped into her head. Out of all the many souvenirs at Kyoto Station, which would be the cheapest one to buy?

Pivoting her search to find the answer to her question, she jotted down some ideas before making her way to Kyoto Station, located beneath the iconic Kyoto Tower.

Kyoto Station is directly connected to various complexes such as the Isetan department store building, Kyoto Theatre, and an underground shopping mall, but as this was way too much ground to cover, Udonko limited her search to the area inside Kyoto Station outside the Shinkansen ticket gates.

Since she was only looking for souvenirs, she decided to be strict with her search, passing on items that don’t show a connection to Kyoto, even if they might be cheaply priced.

Though she planned well before her visit, one thing she didn’t plan for were the crowds, because with this being fall foliage season, Kyoto Station was packed with tourists from all over the world.

Fighting her instinct to avoid the crowds and abort the mission, Udonko persevered, making her way to the Omiyage Kaido (“Souvenir Highway”).

▼ おみやげ街道 (Omiyage Kaido)

Hunting for souvenirs was fun at first, but as she stopped by more and more souvenir hot spots to check the prices of their wares, she found herself becoming mentally and physically drained.

In the end, Udonko spent about two hours wandering around the area before finding what she believes to be the cheapest souvenir at Kyoto Station…

▼ …Miyako no Toryanse!

Udonko found this sweet on display at Kyoto Porta Miyako, a famous confectionery and food area located on the north-south free passage connecting the Hachijo and Karasuma exits.

According to the package description, this cheap sweet appeared to be a steamed bun made with a milk-infused dough, wrapped around a white bean paste centre.

The cross section showed the size of the paste filling was generous, and the bun itself was plump and delightfully spongy.

The dense centre gave the sweet a heavy weight for its small size, and upon first bite Udonko could sense the aroma of milk and the sweetness of the rich white bean paste as it melted on the tongue.

▼ The white bean paste was so light and smooth it was undeniably excellent quality.

Despite being the cheapest souvenir she found at the station, Miyako no Toryanse turned out to be a very delicious sweet. So…how much did this treat cost?

▼ 100 yen (US$0.68) plus tax!

When she first saw the price tag, Udonko couldn’t believe her eyes because it was so cheap. It was the same price as buying something from a 100-yen chainstore, but the quality was on a whole other level.

The sweet was being sold in packs of 10 at the store where she’d bought it from, so she actually regretted not buying more of them.   However, she had one more treat in her bag that she wanted to share with us, because it cost even less than the steamed cake, but she wasn’t sure if it could really be classed as a souvenir.

The package above is a small serving of “mentsuyu” or “noodle broth”, and Udonko had found it next to the soba noodles at the Harves Kyoto store on the Hachijo exit side.

▼ It cost just 60 yen, plus tax.

This was by far the cheapest thing Udonko saw at the station, and as it bore the name of Matsuba, a local restaurant famous for herring soba, there was no doubt it was a product connected to Kyoto, and a good quality one at that.

However, the reason she didn’t feature it as the cheapest “souvenir” was because…well, can you really classify a small pack of noodle broth as a souvenir?

▼ Like this photo, receiving such a gift would be rather lacklustre.

While a small sachet of broth isn’t going to please a lot of people, you can’t go wrong with sweets as a souvenir, so Udonko highly recommends the Miyako no Toryanse over the mentsuyu if you’re shopping on a budget.

On the other hand, if you have slightly more money to spend, then these canned cakes will be right up your alley!

Featured image: Pakutaso
Insert images © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

[ Read in Japanese ]